Pathfinder - Kineticist Archetypes Breakdown
Last Updated: August 24th, 2017
I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.
Kineticists have a couple of interesting options, but nothing that's especially exciting. None of the archetypes do a good job at fixing problems with the class, and they generally fail to execute the concepts that they're shooting for in any meaningful way. You're probably better off playing a vanilla Kineticist.
Remember that one thing in Avatar: The Last Airbender where water benders could bend peoples' blood and do crazy stuff like that? Well, here you go. Blook Kineticist is a mixed bag; some of the options are amazing, and some of them are bad. Overall, it balances out to a fair trade for what you give up.
Blood Focus (Ex): Locking you into water is fine. Limiting the archetype's Infusions to things with blood is really annoying since so many enemies are constructs, plants, undead, or things which arguably don't have blood (Abberations? Vermin?).
Wrack (Su): You won't always need this, but untyped damage is extremely rare and very powerful. Even if you run into something totally immune to your blast, this will hurt it.
Bleeding Infusion (Su): Bleed damage usually isn't great, but it also usually doesn't do this much damage. Combine this with Wrack to get around resistances, and you can wait for an enemy to bleed to death instead of wasting all of your Burn to kill it with Wrack.
Blood Tell (Sp): Blood Biography is very situational.
Blood Blast (Su): Blood Blast is terrible on its own because it's identical to water blast, but with more damage. The only draw is that you get to use the Infusions from the archetype. Still, that shouldn't prevent you from considering other elements.
Blood Throw (Su): Foe throw is good, and it's typically only available to aether users.
Gut-Wrenching Infusion (Su): At 3 points of Burn this is way too expensive for the effect. Sickened is an excellent debuff, but 3 points of Burn is just too high.
Vampiric Infusion (Su): Healing in combat without cutting into your action economy is really nice. The Burn cost is really high, so be sure to use Gather Power to reduce it. You get Supercharge at the same level, so between Gather power and Infusion specialization, you can easily reduce the Burn cost to 0. You still need to accept 1 Burn to heal, unfortunately.
Blood Mastery (Su): Living forever is really great in real life, but rarely matters in a campaign. The free age bonuses are also nice, but since Kineticists have so little dependence on mental ability scores you don't have a good way to abuse them.
Replaced Features: Infusions (1st, 5th, 9th, 11th), Utility Wild Talents (6th, 8th), Expanded Element (Altered), Omnikinesis.
This archetype is garbage. There are clear design holes which make it functionally unplayable. The concept is fine: give up utility options for even more damage output. The execution means that you actually deal less damage than a vanilla Kineticist, in addition to giving up all of your non-combat options. The whole archetype is build around Devastating Infusion and Flurry of Devastation. Devastating Infusion cripples your damage output, and expects that your damage output will scale based on Flurry of Devastation, but without full BAB Flurry of Devastation is really weak. Imagine a fighter, but with half as meany feats, bad proficiencies, and only 2/3 BAB. That is the amount of damage output you can expect from this archetype.
Devastating Infusion (Su): There is a lot going on in this Infusion, so read it a couple times to make sure you understand it. You can still use your Blast as normal since this is a Form infusion. I'll explain a bit to help, and we'll break it down line by line.
- "an elemental annihilator can either shoot her kinetic blast at a target within 30 feet or make a single melee attack...": You can use this at range or in melee, which is really fantastic.
- "...as if she were using kinetic blade...": If you attack in melee, you use this Infusion as part of another action (see next point) and doing so doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. You form the weapon for the attack, and it disappears at the end of your turn. Normally Kinetic Blade does the same damage as your blast, but you deal 1d8+Con damage as detailed below.
- "...as an attack action.": That's the action "attack", which is a standard action, so you can't use this with full attacks.
- "For this attack, the elemental annihilator's base attack bonus from her kineticist levels is equal to her full kineticist level.": For one attack you dump your 2/3 BAB and get full BAB. Remember that it's only for your Kineticist levels, so if you multiclass you still use whatever BAB you get from this levels.
- "A devastating infusion always deals an amount of damage equal to 1d8 + the elemental annihilator's Constitution modifier, regardless of the annihilator's class level or use of composite blasts.": At first level, this is fine. It matches the 1d6+1+Con damage of a physical blast. Unfortunately, this damage never increases so this Form infusion will fall behind your normal Blast damage by level 3. Remember that this damage is instead of your normal Blast damage, not in addition to.
- "When making a melee attack with devastating infusion, the elemental annihilator doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity,...": The "as if she were using Kinetic Blast" part should have made this clear, but it's good that the text is explicit.
- "... and if she uses two hands, the attack's damage is equal to 1d8 + 1-1/2 times her Constitution modifier.": At 1st level, this is great. It might even match your normal Blast damage at 3rd level. Oh, and this part only works in melee, so no two-handed ranged blasts.
- "This is a 1st-level form infusion that costs 0 points of burn...": This works just like a normal Form Infusion. You can combine it with Substace Infusions just like any other Form Infusion.
- "...and can be used with any physical blast (but not energy blasts).": If you want to use this Infusion, you'll need to pick an element with a physical basic blast. That means no fire.
- "Unlike with kinetic blade, the elemental annihilator can use Vital Strike with devastating infusion.": This means that Vital Strike is the only way to scale this Infusion's damage. Even if you did that, you would still max out at 4d8+Con damage, which is pitiful and a massive waste of feats. Unfortunately, you still only have 2/3 BAB so you're going to get the feats very slowly.
Dampened Versatility (Ex): Utility talents are excellent, and losing them is a big handicap.
Bonus Feats: The feats are good, but nowhere near as good as utility talents.
- 2nd Level
- Deadly Aim: If you're built to fight at range, this is an excellent damage boost.
- Double Slice: The extra damage isn't big enough since you won't get as many attacks as a TWF build with full BAB.
Point-Blank Shot: Crucial for ranged
- Precise Shot: Crucial for ranged attackers with allies.
- Rapid Shot: Worthless until you get Flurry of Devastation at 6th level, but after that it will allow you to make extra attacks and get more damage.
- Power Attack: A fantastic boost to your damage output if you're in melee.
- Two-Weapon Fighting: More attacks may result in more damage than making your attacks two-handed, especially once you have the damage bonuses from Blast Training and Weapon Specialization.
- Weapon Finesse: Your attack deals damage based on your Constitution, so you don't get any benefit from high Strength except access to Power Attack. You also need high Dexterity to survive in light armor.
- Weapon Focus: More attack bonus is always nice, and you have 2/3 BAB and few ways to get attack bonuses on your own.
- 8th Level
- Improved Two-Weapon Fighting: If you're going to use Flurry of Devastation in melee, you probably want this for the extra attacks. However, at 2/3 BAB you have trouble hitting reliably.
- Weapon Specialization: Flurry of Devastation is all about spamming attacks, so small damage bonuses like this add up quickly.
- 10th Level
- Greater Weapon Focus: More attack bonus is always nice.
- Improved Critical: Doubling your threat range on 20x2 is not worth a feat.
- Improved Precise Shot: Crucial for any ranged attacker with allies.
- Two-Weapon Rend: This feat is garbage.
Increased Range (Su): Locking you into these Infusions isn't much fun, especially since you'll need them so infrequently.
Ever-Preasant Threat (Su): Neat, but you could also threaten by wearing a gauntlet.
Blast Training (Ex): A bit of attack and damage bonus will keep your attacks roughly on par with magically enhanced weapons.
Flurry of Devastation (Su): This is the defining feature of the archetype. You don't get it until 6th level, and when you finally get it, it doesn't work as I think it was intended to. Unless you have Rapid Shot or Two-Weapon Fighting, making a Full Attack won't get you anything until 8th level. You're stuck with the garbage damage from Devastating Infusion, and you don't get the BAB boost so you don't get iterative attacks early.
Omnicide (Su): 50d6+50 damage is terrifying. The Burn cost is high, but using Gather Power and firing every other turn may be the most effective option available to the Elemental Annihilator.
Replaced Features: Basic utility wild talent normally granted by selecting an element, Infusions (1st, 5th), Utility Wild Talents, Omnikinesis
The Elemental Ascetic merges the Kineticist's elemental powers with the martial style of the Monk. The flavor is really cool, and some built-in melee mechanics make melee Kineticists much simpler. However, like the Monk, the Elemental Ascetic is very MAD. You need four good ability scores to function, which is hard to manage. Playing this archetype will be mechanically difficult, and you'll need to invest heavily in ability score enhancement items and items to compensate for your relatively poor AC due to lack of armor.
Elemental Flurry (Su): This is not the Monk's Unarmed Strike. You don't get the damage progression. Instead, you rely on Kinetic Fist for damage, which is unfortunate because Kinetic Fist applies 1/3 of the damage dice you get from a normal Blast. That means that you'll be dealing 1d6 energy damage until 7th level. Fortunately, you get Flurry of Blows as a Monk of your level, so you'll get to make multiple attacks, potentially allowing you to exceed the damage you would deal with a single Blast. Unfortunately, you also give up access to every form infusion which isn't an AOE, so your ability to use blasts at range is massively reduced.
Elemental Wisdom (Su): Switching your primary ability score to Wisdom is a serious handicap. Focusing on Constitution increases the size of your Burn pool, not to mention addressing your problematic hit points. A normal Kineticist needs a bit of Wisdom to compensate for their poor Will saves, but they don't need to emphasize it significantly. If nothing else, the emphasis on Wisdom means that your Will saves will be decent.
AC Bonus (Ex): The Monk's AC bonus is pretty great.
Powerful Fist (Su): One damage die size increase means 1 more damage per die on average. Since this costs Burn, you'll generally use this as an occasionaly damage boost. Infusion Specialization will reduce the cost, but it doesn't stay in sync with the cost of the ability, and using the damage boost reduces your ability to use Substance Infusions, so using the damage boost carries an opportunity cost.
Replaced Features: Kinetic Blast (Altered), Elemental Overflow, key ability scores of wild talents, Elemental Defense, Infusions (5th, 9th, 13th)
The Kinetic Chirurgeon gives up all of the flexibility of Infusions in exchange for the ability to be a mediocre healbot. If you want to play a healbot, play a Cleric. Also, don't play a healbot because they're boring and not very useful. Just buy a wand of cure light wounds.
Kinetic Chirurgery (Su): Mercies are pretty great, and they allow you to solve problems well beyond simple damage.
Metahealer (Su): Access to Breath of Life is amazing, even if your target needs to accept Burn to get it. A bit of Burn is an easy trade for your life.
Healing Buffer (Su): Free healing is nice, but you give up a ton of versatility to get it.
Replaced Features: Infusions, Metakinesis, Infusion Specialization, Internal Buffer (Altered)
The Overwhelming Soul is a surprisingly large change to the class, considering it only has three abilities. The end result is that the class is easier to play, involves less resource management, and doesn't need to balance the risks of Burn. If you're new to Pathfinder and want to play a Kineticist, this archetype is a great option.
Mind Over Matter (Ex): Switching your primary ability is a weird trade. You're turning a dump stat into your primary stat, which makes a very SAD class more MAD. However, I think the Kineticist can handle it, especially since this makes Elves and Halflings much more appealing. The additional class skills also make the Kineticist into an effective Face, giving you something to do with your 4+ skill ranks.
Mental Prowess (Su): Giving up the ability to accept Burn is a potentially huge handicap, but it also makes the Kineticist much easier to play.
Overwhelming Power (Ex): Elemental Overflow with a smaller bonus, you don't need to accept Burn to get it.
Replaced Features: Class skills (Altered), the key ability score of wild talents, Burn (Altered), Internal Buffer.